DIY Compost bin: How to make your own

Want to go green? Read on for tips and information on how to make your own compost tumbler and recycle organic waste at home.

Updated

food waste

Key steps

  • Compostable items include fruit, vegetable scraps, grass and even straw.
  • Combine a mix of brown and green ingredients for the best results.
  • Don’t forget to keep it damp.
  • Turn when it reaches 50-65°C.
  • Has it stopped giving off heat and become dry, brown and crumbly? It’s ready to use!

If you've not made a compost bin before, the question is, what are you waiting for? It's well known that composting is the secret to achieving healthy soil. Besides, it is also an invaluable way to recycle organic waste for the good of the environment. Get answers to all your composting FAQs here - like what is a compost bin and what materials are compostable - to get started.

The most important thing to remember is, a DIY compost takes time (at least 1 year!) Patience is imperative.

How to make a compost pile?

Although it will take time, it is actually pretty simple to create your own compost following these steps:

  1. Combine your green and brown ingredients.
  2. Brown materials (fallen leaves and straw) add carbon.
  3. Green materials (organic kitchen scraps and grass trimmings) add nitrogen.
  4. Cut up your scraps before putting them in, as they’ll degrade quicker.
  5. Add a layer of alfalfa meal to aid in bacterial growth.
  6. Add water and keep your heap damp. Never waterlog it, as this gets rid of microorganisms which are essential to the decomposition process.
  7. Turn your compost when the temperature reaches 50-65°C.
  8. Don’t forget to keep a lid on it to keep away flies and other pests.

How to make a compost pile:  FAQs 

Here we’ll share everything you need to know about putting together a DIY compost bin and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to make your own compost tumbler.

  • What is a compost pile? A compost pile (or bin) is an area where organic materials such as fruit, peels and more can decompose to produce a nutrient-rich, soil-boosting product called compost.
  • Why should I use a compost bin?  Using an area to create your own DIY compost is not only a great way to recycle food waste, reduce landfill overfill as well as save money on buying compost for your flower beds!
  • Are there different types of composting? Yes! There are two main types:
    • Cold composting collects garden waste and organic kitchen waste placed in a bin and after 1-2 years the decomposition produces DIY compost.
    • Hot composting is quicker, but it requires nitrogen and carbon and should only be attempted by an experienced gardener.
  • How do I know when my compost is ready? It will become a dry and brown with a crumbly texture. In other words, it will look like soil! You can use your DIY compost in your flower beds when it no longer gives off heat. 
  • What can I put in my compost bin? There is a variety of things you can pop into your compost bin. This includes:
    • Fruit
    • Vegetable peelings
    • Coffee grounds
    • Biodegradable coffee filters
    • Eggshells
    • Grass
    • Plant clippings
    • Dry leaves
    • Finely chopped wood
    • Bark chips
    • Shredded newspaper
    • Straw
  • Are there things I shouldn’t put on my compost heap? Most definitely! Here are a few things you should avoid:
    • Meat (and oil used to cook the meat!) as this attracts rodents and pests
    • Diseased plant materials as you want your DIY compost to keep your plants healthy when you use it.
    • Pressure-treated wood
    • Dog and/or cat feces
    • Weeds such as dandelions
    • Dairy

A DIY compost is an easy way to help you live a greener lifestyle and ensure that your garden is healthy and organic but for more eco-friendly advice, check out our guide to 5 ways to conserve water at home.

Originally published